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Deakin University’s Associate Professor Bronwyn Fox has declared the Carbon Fibres – Future Directions conference held in Geelong an overwhelming success.
“The overall consensus was that this conference was something that carbon composite industry has been needing for some time,” she said. “It brought together a wide range of participants, from researchers, to manufacturers to the end users of carbon composites.
“The expert speakers also reflected that wide cross-section of the carbon composite community.
“In fact establishing a genuine carbon composite community was something we believe will come out of the conference.
“At the end of the first two days there was a strong resolve that we should all begin to work more closely together.”
Compared to the metal industry, carbon composites are still in their early days.
But diminishing petroleum resources, the need to create more environmentally friendly cars and aeroplanes, and to generate electricity in new sustainable ways is already increasing the demand for carbon composites, a market that Deakin along with the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM) is now able to enter with great confidence.
With the support of the Victorian Government, Deakin and VCAMM hosted the conference that coincided with the International Air Show at Avalon.
“The establishment last year of AFFRIC, the Australian Future Fibre Research and Innovation Centre, and the decision to build the Australian Carbon Fibre Research Centre in Geelong have provided us with an amazing opportunity to become a global leader in carbon composites,” Associate Professor Fox said.
“When you looked around the room and saw the people there, and knew just how far they had come to be present, you got this feeling that carbon composites were really putting Deakin, VCAMM and Geelong on the global map.
“We had Leonid Melamed from Moscow, where he heads up a huge carbon composite venture.
“We had Steve Christensen from Seattle where he works with Boeing.
“We had Dr Peter Wu from Spirit Aero Systems and Dr Slade Gardiner from Lockheed Martin where he recently helped create some of the world’s best fighter planes and also participated in the developing one of the modules that landed on Mars.”
During the conference, Deakin also entered into agreement to work with the University of Manchester on research into carbon composites.
“I have been working with Professor Andrew Walker from Manchester for some time,” Associate Professor Fox said.
“His visit for the conference allowed us to formalise our relationships through a Memorandum of Understanding.
“So at so many levels, we had plenty of positive things happen that we are all determined to build on as quickly as possible.
“Carbon composites are the preferred materials for the 21st Century in a wide range of industries, not just automotive and aviation.
“Renewable energy is another area where I believe we are well placed to play an important role.
“Deakin and Geelong are in on the ground floor as a whole new manufacturing industry develops around the world.”